Expansion of Fortified Operating Theaters Wing

Expansion of Fortified Operating Theaters Wing

Huge Disparity

Extensive progress has been made. However, there is still a large discrepancy between the

medical services available to residents of the Western Galilee region and those available in

other parts of Israel and among other nations in the Organization for Economic Co-operation

and Development (OECD). The disparity is especially pronounced when comparing the

number of hospital beds per capita, and also in terms of the significant lack of surgical and

emergency care facilities, the number of doctors and many other indices.

Unfortunately, this inequality results in lower life expectancy and quality of life relative to

residents of Israel’s center. The population served by GMC is ranked lower than average

in socio-economic indices, and, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, has higher

rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, genetic diseases and other conditions.

To close this gap over recent years Galilee Medical Center has dramatically improved the

surgical services offered to residents of the northern region, many of which were not

previously available in the area. These new services include the Neurosurgery Unit (brain

surgery), the Interventional Cerebral Angiography Unit, the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Unit, and units for hand and shoulder surgery and for vascular surgery. In the past, patients

had to travel to distant hospitals for these treatments and surgeries.

The Current Unsustainable Situation

Altogether, over 17,000 operations were performed in 2018 at GMC, 12% more than in each

of the previous five years. The rate of occupancy of GMC’s operating theaters’ is over 90%

throughout the year – one of the highest rates in Israel.

There are currently 12 general operating theaters at GMC:

  • 8 general operating theaters, of which two have limited usage and are too small to

accommodate imaging equipment.

  • 4 operating theaters for OB-GYN procedures.

Additionally, there are:

  • A small operating room used solely for IVF procedures.
  • An operating theater in the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Unit that is located in an

outpatient clinic’s ward used solely for dental procedures.

The eight general operating theaters are fortified and connected to the underground

hospital through a fortified elevator, thereby enabling surgery to take place under fire.

However, the operating theaters are not all located in the same part of the hospital, which

makes it difficult for the anesthesiologists and other critical surgical staff, who have to

rush from one room to the next.

As a result of the increase in surgical services being offered and the opening of new

departments, as well as the huge growth in the number of local residents, the wait time for

operations has risen significantly. Patients are subjected to unnecessary suffering due to

the long wait time before their surgery, with the dates of their long-awaited surgery often

further delayed.

Further, the increased numbers of routine operations

and the unreasonable load placed on the current

facilities, together with the lack of a designated

operating room for emergencies, makes it difficult to

prepare effectively for states of emergency.

Since the Galilee Medical Center is situated close to

the Lebanese border, and based on past experience,

it is imperative to be ready for extreme situations and

to allocate an operating room specifically for these

types of events. Additionally, GMC handles numerous

victims of car accidents caused by the perilous, old

roads in this rural, hilly area.

As the existing operating theaters are small and cramped, the type of medical equipment

and technology that can be used is limited, preventing multidisciplinary teams from being

present during complex operations. Furthermore, there is no space for students and

interns who require training and practice in keeping with GMC’s essential role as a teaching


The existing equipment is outdated and doesn’t suit current requirements. For example, in

the OB-GYN operating rooms, it’s impossible to fit an x-ray machine; in others, there is no

space for surgical instrument trays, etc.

The Solution: Renovating And Building Operating  Theaters

In order to effectively provide all the new services offered by GMC, it is essential to ensure

larger, state-of-the-art operating theaters that accommodate multidisciplinary teams and

cutting-edge medical technology. This need is crucial. In the near future complex hybrid

operations will use advanced imaging systems and require collaborating teams of surgeons.

Currently, the operating theaters are spread out among several areas across 1700 square

meters. The planned renovation will significantly enlarge the space allotted for operating

theaters: there will be a total of 19 operating theaters, including five large, state-of-theart

fortified operating theaters, totaling 2500 square meters. All the general operating

theaters will be located in the same building, thereby easing the challenges for facilitating

anesthesiologists and others, preventing the constant need to scurry from one building to


The existing operating theaters will be renovated. And, in order to optimize the complex

workflow, one of the rooms will be moved to the new area and five new fortified operating

theaters will be built. One of these will be designated for pediatric surgery.

Increasing the number of operating theaters will make it possible to significantly reduce

the wait time for surgery and will improve the hospital’s readiness for emergency situations

and trauma and mass casualty events.

The operating theaters will be built according to the latest and most stringent standards

and will accommodate the presence of multidisciplinary teams and new technology during

surgery. Moreover, space will be allotted for the sterile storage of medical supplies, as well

as for administrative and logistical areas, and staff rooms. There will also be designated

areas for patients’ families. Estimated time to plan and complete the project is 4-5 years.

The project was approved by the planning, Development and Construction of Medical

Facilities division of the Health Ministry.

The cost of the operating theater renovation and reconstruction is US $23 million. The

Ministry of Health recognizes the importance of this project and has committed matching

funds in order to accelerate its realization.

Friends Of Galilee Medical Center

The Friends of Galilee Medical Center Association has been active for over 30 years,

promoting and bolstering the Medical Center for the benefit of the community. The Friends

of GMC is a nonprofit organization that raises funds in Israel and abroad and supports

the Medical Center by assisting with the acquisition of medical equipment, helping fund

construction projects, strengthening the bond with the local community by educating for

a healthy lifestyle, and creating an environment that promotes healing. The Friends of GMC

is sponsoring the development of therapeutic gardens and safe playgrounds, along with

integrating art in the hospital’s public space. The President of the Friends of Galilee Medical

Center is Mrs. Raya Strauss Ben-Dror and the Chairperson of the Board is Mr. Michael Illouz.

In recent years, the Friends of Galilee Medical Center completed several significant projects

with the help of generous donors: the Miriam (Mori) Burkis Oncology Institute, the Arieli-

Goldschmidt Delivery Rooms and the Irving Moskowitz Fortified Cardiology Department.

The Friends is currently promoting a large-scale project to renovate the Internal Medicine

Building with the support of the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

About Galilee Medical Center

Galilee Medical Center (GMC) is a government-owned general hospital that was established

shortly after the founding of the State of Israel in Nahariya in the Western Galilee. Today

it is the sole medical center in the region, serving a diverse population of 600,000 Jews,

Moslems, Christians and Druze – civilians and soldiers.

GMC’s strategic location, a mere six miles from the hostile Lebanese border, requires it

to maintain the highest standards of preparedness in case of emergency situations. The

hospital must always be ready to provide advanced treatment for multiple casualty events

involving both civilian and military populations. During the Second Lebanon War of 2006,

the Medical Center suffered a direct hit from a missile, and numerous lives were saved

thanks to the fact that the hospital had transferred its activities to its fortified underground

facilities, the first and only one of its kind in Israel at that time.

Galilee Medical Center received international acknowledgment for its professional and

humane treatment of 3,000 wounded Syrians – 70% of all the victims who were brought to

Israel in order to receive humanitarian aid during the bloody civil war in Syria.

In recent years, GMC has undergone an unprecedented overhaul: dozens of new departments

and new medical services were inaugurated, some in fields that were previously unavailable

to residents of the periphery. These include the new neurosurgery department; the cerebral

angiography unit; head surgery; oral and maxillofacial specialists, and others.

In addition to being the largest surgical center in the Galilee, GMC is the principal teaching

hospital for the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee, training approximately

two-thirds of its medical students.

For more information, contact

Talia Zaks, Director of Donor Relations, Friends of Galilee Medical Center,

Tel. +972-53-4222310 | [email protected]


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